Wednesday, December 7, 2011

6 Weeks of Recovery

I have yet to talk about my 6 weeks at home after my surgery, so I thought it was time to give everyone some insight as to how easy it is to recover from hip resurfacing.

The ride home from Cleveland was bearable.  I knew I would have to keep my legs elevated, so riding in the backseat was the best choice for the 9 hour drive.  When I first arrived home, I was on crutches and my instructions were to continue wearing the intermittent pneumatic compression devices on my legs for 2 weeks. Just to be in my own bed was a blessing unto itself.

The physical therapy seemed easy enough until I had to perform it.  The simple, antiquated exercises were rather hard.  One forgets just how strong your muscles are, until you do nothing with them for a period of time or they have been cut, stretched and repositioned.  Along with the exercises shown, I was also able to ride the stationary bike and walk outside in the driveway.

Like I said before, after the surgery, my muscles felt like I had done way
to many squats and lunges.  They didn't feel much different after I got home. I was instructed to perform each exercise 30 times, 3 times a day.

I would highly suggest, when doing the floor exercises, they be performed on top of a massage table or a firm bed.  There is no way one would be able to get down onto the floor to do these, and after hip surgery, you won't want to or be able to.  I was doing good until I hit 20 reps and at that time my leg felt like I had a lead weight wrapped around the ankle.                                        
The one exercise I thought I'd be able to whip through was the one to the right, lying flat on your back and swinging your leg outward and back to the center.  When I went to do this, I couldn't move my leg at all.  My brain was telling me I could do it, but my leg wouldn't move.  With my husband assisting me, it only took 2 weeks until I could do this on my own.

My saving grace for a few weeks was this little device.  This blue nylon leg strap was a huge help in raising my leg in and out of bed, up and off the ottoman and up onto the massage table. We don't stop to think, when you lift your leg, whether it's bent at the knee or not, you are using your hip, and that's what the doctors don't want you using before you regain strength in your muscles.  I can remember my father using this contraption in the nursing home after he broke his leg.  He kept telling me how great it was, but I had no idea just how great until I needed assistance.

It didn't take long at all for my muscles to come back.  Each day they grew stronger and was very pleased that a new challenge was conquered each day.  I had shed the pneumatic devices for the legs and was tooling around the house with my crutches, it's the same feeling when you're in the hospital and you no longer have to take the IV pole into the bathroom with you.  It's a new found freedom you don't forget.

I was taught how to go up and down the stairs with my crutches before I left the hospital.  As long as you can remember, "the good leg goes up to heaven, the bad leg goes down to hell" you won't have any trouble.  The nurses realize you will have to tackle steps at some point, so they want to be sure you are comfortable and have mastered this task.

You need to learn how to walk with 75% of your weight on your good leg and only 25% of your body weight on the surgical leg.  At first this concept was hard for me to grasp but after a few test runs I was good to go.

On November 30th we headed back to Cleveland for my 6 week checkup.  On December 1st x-rays were taken and I then headed in to meet with Phil, Dr. Brooks PA.  Commenting on my smile, we talked briefly about the spinal headaches and said I looked good, I told him I felt great.  He said I had a perfect hip and asked if I wanted to see it. Grabbing my crutches to walk over and view the x-ray, Phil told me to leave the crutches behind, I no longer needed them.  I stood and started to head out the door, however, little did I know I was going to walk like a dog that had been hit in the hind quarters by a car.  The minute I took my first couple steps I staggered to the right and ran into the door and door casing.  I couldn't figure out what was going on.

Phil wanted me to practice walking without the crutches, so as parents do with their children who first walk, my husband was at one end of the hallway and Phil was at the other.  As I walked towards Phil, I kept veering to the right.  All I can say is, I'm glad I wasn't pulled over by the police and asked to walk a straight line, I would have been hauled off to jail instantly!  Phil kept telling me it's mind over matter and after being on crutches for the past 6 weeks my mind has to adjust.  My brain hasn't realized yet I can put 100% weight back on the surgical leg.  When I walked back to my husband, Phil told me to walk with purpose, like I had somewhere to go.  I felt better but walked like Grandpappy Amos from the Real McCoys.  I had now acquired a very large limp.  Phil suggest I use one crutch but he wanted me to ditch it after 3 days.

I was given one final exercise to perform and for the next 30 days, I have to go up and down stairs one at a time. My driving privileges have been reinstated and I was told to 'get on with my life.'

Phil told me all the exercises I have been doing laying down did not have to be done any longer.  I am to continue the standing exercises and to incorporate the new one. I am now to lie on my right side and do straight leg raises with my surgical leg, like the others, 3 times a day, 30 reps.  Again, my husband needs to assist me, my brain is telling me I can do it but the leg won't raise.  I'm sure after 3 weeks I'll be able to do this on my own.

As Phil said, my hip was perfect and he explained next year when I view my hip I will see where my bone has filled in around the Birmingham Hip device and I'll be ready for skiing, hiking and aerobics.  I no longer have knee pain and all soreness has left my body.  The tenderness around the incision is gone and I am able to once again lay on my left side.  The limp is gone and I am walking with purpose once again.  You definitely know when you over do it.  Biking and walking on the treadmill has to be gradual.  Just because I feel good, I have to remind myself not to overdue.  There has been a couple days where I have felt it in my hip from walking around the house to much, my leg feels heavy at night.

Hopefully my right hip will continue to stay strong and I will not have to go through this agin, however, if and when the time comes, I'll know what to expect and go into it with a positive attitude.  For those out there who are vacillating whether they should have this procedure, I say go for it and get on with your life.  It will change your life for the better and we all want to live a healthy, productive life.

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